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Back to Laws Prohibiting Investments in Controversial Weapons

I. Law Prohibiting the Financing of Prohibited Weapons

Belgium adopted a law regulating economic activities related to weapons, commonly referred to as the Law on Weapons (Loi sur les Armes), in 2006.[1] This Law was initially silent on the topic of financial involvement in companies that manufacture prohibited weapons, but it was amended in 2007 to prohibit investment in, or the financing of, any company involved in the sale or use of certain prohibited ammunition and war materiel such as anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions, and depleted uranium munitions and armor.[2]

Engaging in the activities prohibited by the Law on Weapons is punishable by a jail sentence of between one month and five years, and/or a fine of between €100 (about US$111) and €25,000 (approximately US$27,747).[3]

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II. Prohibited Investments

Activities that would make a company subject to this prohibition include the “manufacture, use, repair, exhibition for purpose of selling, sale, distribution, import or export, warehousing or transport of anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions, and/or inert munitions or armor plating containing depleted uranium or any other type of industrial uranium.”[4]  The Law provides that  the Belgian government is to publish a list of three types of companies: (a) those that engage in the prohibited activities, (b) those that own more than 50% of the shares in companies that engage in these activities, and (c) collective investment organizations (organismes de placement collectif) that own financial instruments of a company listed under criterion (a) or (b).[5]

The Law on Weapons prohibits any financial support for a company on this list, including bank loans and bank guarantees, and the acquisition of financial instruments (such as shares) issued by that company.[6] If such financial support was already in place when the Law came into effect, it must be withdrawn as much as contractually possible.[7]

Although the Belgian government was supposed to publish the list of companies by May 1,  2008, it had not yet done so as of June 2015,[8] and it still does not appear to have done so as of  the date of this report.

In response to a question from a senator in 2008, the Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance stated that “the absence of such a public list obviously does not prevent the concrete application of the legislation.”[9]

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III. Exemptions

Article 8 of the Law on Weapons does not apply to index funds, defined by the law as “investment firms whose purpose, as defined by their articles of incorporation or management regulations, is to follow the composition of a particular index of stocks or bonds.”[10]

Furthermore, the Law on Weapons authorizes the financing of specific projects, even when they involve companies engage in the activities prohibited by article 8 of the Law on Weapons, so long as the projects have nothing to do with these activities.[11]

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Prepared by Nicolas Boring
Foreign Law Specialist
November 2016


[1] Loi du 8 juin 2006 réglant des activités économiques et individuelles avec des armes [Law of 8 June 2006 Regulating Individual and Economic Activities with Weapons] (as amended to May 13, 2016), http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi_loi/loi_a.pl?language=fr&caller=list&cn=2006060830&la=f&fromtab=loi&sql=dt=%27loi%27&tri=dd+as+rank&
rech=1&numero=1
, archived at https://perma.cc/X6BL-F8K8.

[2] Id. art. 8; Loi du 20 mars 2007 interdisant le financement de la fabrication, de l’utilisation ou de la détention de mines antipersonnel et de sous-munitions [Law of 20 March 2007 Prohibiting the Financing and Manufacturing, the Use or the Possession of Anti-Personnel Mines and Sub-Munitions], http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi_loi/change_lg.pl?language=fr&la=F&table_name=loi&cn=2007032048, archived at https://perma.cc/G3G2-F4E2.

[3] Loi du 8 juin 2006, art. 23.

[4] Id. art. 8.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Question No. 381, Questions et réponses écrites [Written Questions and Answers], CHAMBRE DES REPRÉSENTANTS DE BELGIQUE [BELGIAN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES], QRVA 54 032 (July 6, 2015), p. 37, http://www.lachambre.be/QRVA/pdf/54/54K0032.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/H6JW-MU8G.

[9] Question No. 4-306, Questions Orales [Verbal Questions], SÉNAT DE BELGIQUE [BELGIAN SENATE], Annales, Séances plénières [Annals, Plenary Sessions], May 22, 2008, Afternoon Session, No. 4-30, p. 35, www.senate.be/www/webdriver?MItabObj=pdf&MIcolObj=pdf&MInamObj=pdfid&MItypeObj=application/pdf&MIvalObj=67109926, archived at https://perma.cc/Q2Q4-LP6Q.

[10] Loi du 8 juin 2006, art. 8.

[11] Id.

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Last Updated: 10/02/2017